INJURED trio Emanuele Giaccherini, Ricky Alvarez and Sebastian Coates are facing at least a month-long stint on the sidelines.
Midfielders Giaccherini and Alvarez, plus centre-half Coates, all missed Saturday’s 3-1 victory over Stoke City and are unlikely to be fit when Sunderland return to action after the two-week international break.
The ankle injury suffered by Giaccherini at Burnley last month is more severe than first thought, with the 29-year-old - left out of the Italy squad announced on Saturday night - suffering severe bruising to the bone.
Alvarez sustained a knee problem in training last week, while Sunderland have been conducting tests over a thigh injury which has been plaguing Coates.
Sunderland boss Gus Poyet said: “I cannot give you the medical report because it would be unfair on the doc and also because I might mess it up.
“But it could be longer than a month - four to six weeks or longer.
“Alvarez has a little pinch in the miniscus and GIaccy has the knock that he’s got. The bone bruise is a bit stronger than we first thought.”
Giaccherini and Alvarez would both have been involved in some capacity against Stoke, yet it didn’t hamper Sunderland’s efforts to record a first Premier League victory of the campaign.
And Poyet says Sunderland need to continue with that mindset after the relief stemming from an illusive maiden win.
Poyet added: “I can see the group is stronger. We’ve had a few injuries now for a few weeks.
“And everybody needs to be available. It doesn’t matter who plays, at the end of the day, it’s the club.
“It wasn’t our best day on Saturday, but we performed well and scored three goals - which we normally don’t do.
“It’s nice for everybody to forget about getting that first win.
“It’s a good feeling and I’m very pleased for the players.
“We knew inside the camp that we were a difficult team to play against, but without a win, there are always some doubts, some nerves.
“I think it was very important for the players to win this game.”